If you are a leader, at any level, you’ve heard the words a few (hundred) times, “You’re leading us in the wrong direction.”
Or the wrong way.
Or taking the wrong approach.
. . . and the list goes on.
Let’s be clear, sometimes you are wrong. Sometimes you lead with great vision and enthusiasm only to find yourself (and your baffled followers) stuck somewhere ugly.
Leadership—on the best of days—is an experiment in endeavoring.
You know in part, see in part, and do your best to make the tough calls and lead well. But leading is often a journey of discovering what doesn’t work.
Just admit it—sometimes you’re faking it hoping to make it.
Sure, you fast and pray. Of course, you do your best to hear the Lord and make wise decisions. But about 87.9% of the time, you’re throwing something against the wall to see if it sticks.
For the record, leadership isn’t about always being right.
Leadership is mostly about making a call. Even in the most collaborative environments, someone has to eventually say, “Okay, sounds like this is what we need to do.”
And then they do it.
They step out, take a risk, and do their best to lead.
However, there’s always (and I do mean always) someone standing either in the shadows or in your face challenging your vision, decisions, and choices.
Let’s be clear about this too, it’s okay to be challenged. You are not above being questioned. And no matter how long you’ve led (over forty years for me), it’s always (and I do mean always) best to stay humble.
You never grow beyond your need to be teachable.
I understand how difficult it is to be challenged by someone who was in diapers when you started your leadership journey.
I know it’s tough on your soul to have people question your decisions when you’re doing the best you can for their benefit (whether they see that or not).
I realize how hard it is to listen to someone who’s never been where you are, rarely had to make the agonizing leadership decisions you make regularly, and they may not have made the sacrifices you’ve had to make as a leader.
But here’s something to consider: Jesus was the only perfect leader to ever walk on this planet, and He was challenged too.
And the criticisms didn’t just come from his enemies.
The confrontations also came from His guys, the disciples, His friends.
At one point, after Jesus tried to explain to the disciples that he had to die, Peter took Jesus aside and essentially said, “Jesus, you got it wrong! That will never happen to you!”
Apparently, the boys felt it necessary to establish a rank among them, so they challenged Jesus to lead better by answering their question, “Who is the greatest?”
Then, of course, there’s Judas. He had issues with Jesus’ perspective of money, and most scholars think he never entirely accepted Jesus as Messiah or Lord. Unlike the others, Judas never used the title “Lord” for Jesus but instead only called him Rabbi. In the end, because Jesus wasn’t what Judas wanted and didn’t lead the way he wanted, Judas betrayed Him.
Even after the resurrection and just before His ascension, the disciples repeatedly said, “Ok, it’s time for You to establish the kingdom and boot out the Romans! Are You ready to do this, Jesus?” Right up to their last moments with Jesus, they challenged Him.
Be comforted my leadership colleagues—if people doubted, tested, and opposed Jesus, you can expect it too.
So what should you do?
- Do your best to listen. What is truth and what is not? What needs to change in you?
- Do your best to respond rather than react.
- Do your best to humbly correct and rebuke in love when needed.
- Do your best to lead with clarity and conviction.
- Don’t be derailed from your God-given call and destiny.
- And most of all, don’t give up on others or yourself.
I love this quote by the late author and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, “We (leaders) must all wage an intense, lifelong battle against the constant downward pull. If we relax, the bugs and weeds of negativity will move into the garden and take away everything of value.”
Not everyone will like you. Not everyone will agree with you. Not everyone will applaud your leadership or the tough decisions you often have to make.
But lead anyhow.
Then lead some more.
Fail some more.
And no matter what, keep moving.
No, it’s not easy, but good and godly leadership is a high calling and desperately needed now more than ever.
“Even when you’re tired and weary, and feel completely spent,
hold on, and don’t quit.
It may not come as quickly as you’d like,
but at just the right time
you will see the results of your labor.”
(BPV, Bubna Paraphrase Version)